Lunch Box

Which parent does not have this pet peeve?

“My daughter never finishes her snack/ lunch box! Every morning I rack my brains to conjure up something that is tasty and nutritious and will taste good after a few hours. And, my child always rants that she wants something ‘interesting’.” Well, at ParentEdge, we believe there is strength in numbers. So we drew upon the collective wisdom of several moms (with children ranging from ages 2 to 18!) and have come up with a comprehensive list that should sustain you through all those rushed school day mornings. This time around, we have focused on vegetarian food items.
Your primary guiding principle should be to strike a fine balance among the food groups. A solid carbohydrate base in one of these forms – bread, rice, chapathi/paratha, pasta is essential. The protein element could be in the form of lentils (rajma, channa), egg or good ol’ dal. What is important is to give them an interesting avatar – while most children baulk at a traditional dal tadka accompaniment to phulkas, they would dig into dal parathas. You could make sure calcium-rich foods are included through the snack box fillers – a cube of cheese for example. Traditional jaggery-based sweets like chikki and til laddu are a great way to sneak iron into your child’s diet. Use yummy green chutney as a sandwich spread – a subtle way to include methi, coriander and peas in one go! Veggies should take their pride of place without drawing undue notice to themselves – carrots grated into atta and dosa batter, steamed corn and broccoli with dips – these are some ways to increase the intake of veggies. Cut fruit, topped with a little chaat masala for the zing, is an easy way to get the children excited about fruit.

Here are some ideas categorised to make it easy for you! In each category, you may use a combination of elements depending on the needs (and demands!) of your household. Some children, for example, make a meal out of a vegetable salad, while for others, it is only an accompaniment to a heavier lunch item. Do what works for you!

Snack (Wet/Messy)

  • Sundal’ – boiled channa/channa dal/moong dal garnished with grated coconut, green chillies and ‘tadka’ of mustard and
  • Cut fruit – Papaya, Chikoo, Banana slices, Pomegranate kernels
  • Cheese slices (with or without black olives)
  • Toasted pav bun with butter and jam
  • Steamed corn
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cream bun
  • Dhoklas
  • Mini idlis
  • Vegetable upma
  • Rava idli (with grated carrot and cabbage)
  • Glucose/Marie biscuits half-dipped in chocolate and allowed to harden
  • Batata poha (beaten rice flakes with roasted potatoes)
  • Healthy homemade cakes (carrot for example) – substitute apple sauce for oil/butter, jaggery for sugar and wheat flour for maida
  • Boiled egg (with a little salt and pepper)
  • Muffins, banana bread, fruit cakes
  • Boiled peanuts (salted with or without onions)

Snack (Dry)

  • Chikki (peanut-jaggery square)
  • Nuts – cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts (be considerate of other children’s allergies)
  • Dried fruits – raisins, figs, apricots, dates
  • Cereal bar
  • Fruit bar
  • Breakfast cereals without milk
  • Vegetable and fruit chips – slice apples, carrots etc. like potato chips, bake until crisp and store
  • Murukku/Chakli made of ragi or whole wheat or other healthy grains
  • Rusk
  • Dry bhel
  • Puffed rice with roasted channa



  • Peanut butter-jelly/jam sandwich
  • Vegetable Salad – cucumber, carrot, tomato with paneer cubes
  • Chaat – boiled corn, diced cucumber, tomatoes, lime juice, salt, chaat masala
  • Chapathi rolled with dry aloo subji/spiced boiled channa
  • Bread slices + quick gravy with boiled channa
  • Whole wheat pasta with vegetables
  • Vegetable noodles
  • Sandwiches with the sandwich maker – fillings can be any dry sabzi or grated paneer or banana and sugar
  • Dry rice items – lemon rice, puliyodhare, biriyani, pulao, tomato rice
  • Methi/aloo/onion parathas
  • Oothappam – left over dosa batter garnished with chopped tomatoes, capsicum, onions
  • Spinach souffle toast – spinach in white sauce used as a sandwich topping
  • The plas with choonda
  • Burgers (homemade)
  • Wheat pizza (with paneer or vegetable topping)